Evolving HR Priorities for the “Never Normal”: Josh Bersin Academy Shares New Report


The report contains insights drawn from four executive working groups comprised of approximately 150 HR executives with themes on culture and well-being, workforce transformation, leadership and learning, and return to the workplace.

The leadership qualities needed in the post-COVID world will be significantly different from what they have been for the past few years. How leaders, HR, and businesses have navigated this crisis by leveraging their strengths and mitigating their weaknesses is what will determine how the organization performs in the years to come. But to do that, even leaders and HR teams need guidance on dealing with this unprecedented situation.

Understanding this challenge, Josh Bersin AcademyOpens a new window has announced the release of its report, The Big Reset Playbook: What’s Working Now. It contains insights drawn from four executive working groups comprised of approximately 150 HR executives, who met weekly over five weeks to collaborate on HR and talent issues related to the pandemic.  The themes for the four groups were culture and well-being, workforce transformation, leadership and learning, and return to the workplace.

The report covers 20 key HR priorities as applicable for companies of all sizes and in any industry segment. Some of these are continuous, real-time communication with employees, agile problem-solving without formal methodologies and processes, the creation of a multifunctional HR structure to facilitate close communications, and collaboration with other enterprise functions and ability to operate under ambiguity.

It also has ten case studies highlighting how Banco Santander, PepsiCo, Yum! Brands, and other companies addressed new challenges and the lessons they learned. A section in the playbook covers the critical leadership capabilities required to manage the “never normal” and how HR is involved in supporting managers at all levels to develop these capabilities. Finally, the report has checklists for returning to work, covering areas such as workplace safety, commuting and travel, security, and technology.

Company initiatives have been categorized as per the four phases of the pandemic:

  1. React – Identifying and developing response programs
  2. Respond – Helping employees to work from home and support families
  3. Return – Creating safe and infection-free workplaces
  4. Transform – Redesigning the products and services for the new world

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How Leadership Needs to Evolve in the “Never Normal”

Leadership qualities have been continually changing to meet the needs of transformation in the business landscape and talent profile. This pandemic is yet another tipping point for the leaders and their readiness to change will determine their success.

The report presents some areas that all organizations need to consider now that things have drastically changed.

Leading the way on how to manage a distributed workforce

Leaders will need to show greater acceptance of digital tools and adopt technology to manage a highly distributed workforce. Most managers and leaders struggle with issues such as trust and communication when they have to connect with a predominantly remote workforce. There is a higher need to engage with them at a more personal level, and consistently. This new approach to working has also opened up a diverse set of talent pools that were not available earlier.

Leaders who demonstrate an inclusive mindset and are now open to hiring from these pools are likely to survive and thrive post this crisis. They have the vision to look to the future and understand the difference this will make to their business. Mental wellness levels of the workforce are also currently low. Leaders will need to show the way on how to support anxious employees.

Leading own self-learning and reskilling process

The onus is on leaders and people managers to reinvent their approach and styles to meet the demands of the new world order. They are under tremendous pressure to create a complete customer and employee experience in a virtual setup. This needs them to scale up their learning quickly. For example, Hone, a live learning platform for leadership and people skills, has launched the first-of-its-kind subscription platform for individuals and teams who want to access interactive leadership training.

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By managing the remote workforce well and driving their own reskilling process, leaders can set an example for people managers and other organizational leaders on what is expected of them in the post-pandemic world.